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Putin critic Alexei Navalny to end hunger strike

Oliver Carroll
·2-min read
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (AFP via Getty Images)
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (AFP via Getty Images)

Alexei Navalny on Friday announced an end to his hunger strike, 24 days after declaring a protest at being denied proper medical care.

In an Instagram post relayed by lawyers, the jailed Russian opposition leader said he made the decision after authorities had compromised and allowed him to be seen by civilian doctors outside his prison colony.

"Two months ago, the authorities smirked at my requests for medical assistance," he said. "They laughed at questions like asking for a diagnosis.”

Mr Navalny said he had also been persuaded to end his lonely protest by his team of personal doctors.

On Thursday, they wrote an open letter urging him to end the strike.

"I'll be honest," he said. "When they said my analyses suggested ‘in the shortest time there will be no patient to treat’. Hmmm... I thought it was worth paying attention.”

The opposition leader thanked those who had supported his protest, and said he had been made aware of others joining hunger strikes in support.

He referred to the survivors of the 2004 Beslan school siege, five of whom declared a strike in solidarity with him.

“Tears flowed from my eyes when I read that,” he wrote.

An extended period of rehabilitation now awaits, with a slow return to a normal diet.

“Guidelines suggest the process will take the same 24 days,” Mr Navalny wrote. “So wish me luck.”

Earlier this week, tens of thousands of Russians turned out to protest against the Kremlin’s treatment of Mr Navalny.

Demonstrations were held across the country, with large turnouts in the capital, Moscow, and other major centres, including St Petersburg.

Mr Navalny is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being convicted of violating parole conditions in a trial widely seen as politically motivated.

The activist was arrested on his return to Russia following treatment in Germany for nerve agent poisoning.

In a joint investigation with open-source journalists, he presented persuasive evidence linking the apparent assassination attempt to agents of the Russian state.

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AP News Digest 2 p.m.